American Spa Magazine. Written by Nicole Altavilla - highlighted products contain tea.
There is no doubt about it, tea is a hot commodity. More than 158 million Americans drink tea—the second most consumed drink in the world—on any given day, according to The Tea Association of the USA. What’s more, total sales of tea have increased 16 percent over the last five years and are expected to continue to grow. This growth is due to an increasing interest in the healthy properties of tea and also the availability of new varieties. And tea isn't just for sipping anymore. It’s also gaining popularity in the beauty industry, as tea-based skincare products and spa treatments steam up treatment menus and retail areas alike.
When ingested, the health benefits of the steeped leaves are just about anyone’s cup of tea. According to various studies, tea is anti-aging and can help prevent allergies, lower blood pressure and the risk of breast cancer, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. What many spa professionals are now discovering is that tea-based products applied topically to the skin can provide similar benefits and more because of the compounds found in tea leaves, such as alkaloids, minerals, polyphenols like catechins and flavonoids, polysaccharides, purines, vitamins, and essential oils. “Tea delivers soothing, anti-inflammatory, healing, and antioxidant benefits to the skin,” says Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Clinical Enterprises. Plus, she says, “Natural ingredients and antioxidants are hot right now, and tea-based treatments and products fit into this category.”
Because of its potent and powerful antioxidants, green tea has long been known to offer major skin-protective benefits. That certainly explains why skincare companies are such fans. “As the creators of Mama Mio, the leading skincare line for pregnant women, Mio Skincare is committed to developing products that focus on results and are in line with our no-nasties policy,” says cofounder Jill Dunk. “Green tea fits the bill perfectly. Naturally rich in antioxidants, green tea functions as a cell protector and microcirculation booster that tones and improves the overall health of the skin.” Ideal for treating acne and oily skin, green tea, when taken orally or applied topically to the skin, can also inhibit skin-tumor formation induced by chemical carcinogens or ultraviolet radiation (UVB), says Annet King, director of global education for Dermalogica and the International Dermal Institute. “The extracts also possess anti-inflammatory activity that is owed to the polyphenolic constituents present,” she says. “Research has shown that green tea polyphenols are potent suppressors of carcinogenic activity from UV radiation and can exert broad protection against other UV-mediated responses, such as sunburn, immunosuppression, and photo-aging.” Considered even more powerful than traditional green tea, matcha tea is a very concentrated form of green tea that is gaining popularity due to its many anti-aging skin benefits. The tea, which is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, is grown under shade, which increases the chlorophyll content of the leaf. Matcha helps treat acne, protects skin from UV damage, and improves skin elasticity.
Although a favorite, green tea isn't alone in providing a host of skincare benefits. According to Allison, chamomile tea contains carotenoids, minerals, oils, and vitamins C and E to heal, soothe, and reverse aging, making it ideal for acne, allergic reactions, eczema, hypersensitivity, inflammation, and rashes. Kombucha, a black tea, contains active enzymes, B vitamins, organic acids, and polyphenols, which work together to smooth and provide pro-youth benefits. And rooibos, or red tea, is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and minerals and helps to inhibit free-radical damage, soothe skin, improve microcirculation, and provide healing support.
Gaining a following, white tea is what King refers to as “the new darling in skincare.” According to her, white tea extract derived from camellia sinensis grown in Southeast Asia is an unfermented tea with the highest concentration of polyphenols compared to black, green, oolong, and red tea. “While other tea leaves are rolled and dried in the sun or dried under oxidizing conditions, white tea leaves are picked at the most tender stage of growth, during a critical phase in flower development,” she says. “The leaves are wilted and slowly air dried, preserving the polyphenol content. White tea is the richest source of antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties, as well, and recent studies have shown that white tea also inhibits collagenase and enhances sunscreen performance when formulated in leave-on products.”